Published on Thursday, April 2, 2020
When you have a community of people willing to guide you and lend a helping hand, a positive attitude, and a true passion for what you do, you can accomplish anything. That is what I learned from two young farmers who were both top ten finalists for the National Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award.
Eager to learn and willing to try new things, Wesley and Alicia Logsdon from Kentucky, and Aaron and Lacey Sheller from Indiana, are both in management roles and have built successful farming operations at a young age.
Wesley Logsdon is a first-generation farmer. He started out showing cattle as a kid at the county and state fairs and began helping out on a neighboring cattle farm and working on a few grain farms in the area. Three years after high school, he bought his first planter.
“It was always my wife’s and my dream to farm,” said Wesley. “The biggest measurable obstacle for us was that we didn’t have anything when we started. We’ve had to buy every piece of equipment as we need it.”
Less than ten years ago, Wesley, and his wife Alicia, who grew up in the city, placed their first order with Beck’s – about 17 bags of corn and 50 bags of soybeans. After truly starting from scratch, they have grown their grain farm, along with adding a calving operation and creating an agritourism destination, complete with a corn maze, pumpkin patch, and learning barn.
“People have said that it is easier to work with me because I am more willing to change and open to doing things differently to improve,” said Wesley. “There is no doubt in my mind that I feel the calling from God that farming is what I am supposed to do.”
Unlike the Logsdons, Aaron and Lacey Sheller are not first-generation farmers but have had to jump into a management role at a young age due to an unexpected tragedy. While attending Purdue University, Aaron, a seventhgeneration farmer, lost his father suddenly.
“When dad passed away, it was the middle of the fall, so I took the semester off to try to figure out how to get harvest done and help my mom,” said Aaron.
Aaron and his mom decided to keep farming at least until he graduated from Purdue. Although Aaron had plans to attend law school after graduation, his future father-in-law at the time encouraged him to follow his true passion – farming.
Aaron said that taking over the farm meant learning the basics – all the things his dad took care of in the past that Aaron didn’t know. Thanks to a community of folks who were willing to help, Aaron was able to find his way.
“My dad was very loved and revered by the community,” said Aaron. “Any advice or knowledge I sought, my community provided. Maybe part of it was because I wasn’t afraid to ask, but no one was afraid to share. I credit a decent portion of our success to our community, my father-inlaw included.”
The Shellers have tripled the size of their farm, raising non-GMO corn, including waxy varieties, and soybeans. They are also seed and fertilizer dealers on top of managing a meat business, which has grown to 80 head of cattle per year.
“When you are young, it is important to seek knowledge,” said Aaron. “In our quest to learn more, we’ve added other businesses. Some were successful and some not, but we haven’t been afraid to try.”
Although the Logsdons and Shellers had different journeys, their similar outlooks on farming should give us all hope for the future.
“If you are passionate about it, and you are willing to put forth the effort, it is doable,” said Wesley. “It requires the utmost sacrifice, but if you feel like that it is your calling in your life, then it can be done.”
Aaron shares Wesley’s positive outlook.
“There are going to be tough times, but, like I’ve heard it said, positivity breeds success,” said Aaron. “As young producers, we have to stay positive. While our market may change a little bit and we may have to try different things, the need for a farmer is always going to be there. What a great opportunity we have as farmers to feed the world.”
Author: Ashley Heyen
Categories: CropTalk, 2020
Tags: CropTalk, community talk